The first step to achieving a straighter smile is understanding the basics of orthodontics. First-time orthodontic patients will have questions about various treatment options, procedures, and how the treatment can, and will, impact their overall health.
Patients are the number one priority and understanding your customized treatment plan is essential to your orthodontic experience. Below, we’ll answer ten important questions for orthodontic patients.
1. What is orthodontics?
According to the Canadian Academy of Orthodontists (CAO), orthodontics is the branch of den-tistry that specializes in the diagnoses, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregulari-ties. The technical term for these problems is referred to as malocclusion, or in other words, “bad bite”. The CAO explains that the practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application, and control of corrective appliances to bring the teeth, lips, and jaws into proper alignment to achieve facial balance.
2. How do I know if I’m a candidate for orthodontic treatment?
There are two main reasons why patients decide to pursue orthodontic treatment: functionality and aesthetic. All orthodontic treatment begins with an initial consultation where an orthodontist will discuss your concerns and goals, and perform a thorough exam. The exam consists of de-tailed X-rays and photographs that will advise the orthodontist exactly where the problem points are and will help provide an official diagnosis. A strong candidate for orthodontics will suffer from misalignment, overcrowding, large gaps and spacing, jaw irregularities, and more.
3. What are the different treatment options?
Orthodontic treatment plans are customized to each patient’s individual needs depending on the severity of the condition. While some will need traditional metal brackets and wires to realign their teeth and bite, others may require treatment using lingual braces, headgear, clear aligners, removable appliances, retainers, or oral surgery.
4. Which treatment is the fastest and most effective?
Orthodontic treatment is an investment and requires complete patient compliance to ensure ef-fective and desired results. This includes following your dentist’s and orthodontist’s instructions on all aspects of the treatment plan, attending scheduled appointments, and keeping up with a diligent at-home oral care routine.
5. What is the ideal age for orthodontics?
The truth is, you’re never too old to correct your smile. It’s recommended by dental professionals that children should see a specialist at the first sign of orthodontic issues or no later than age seven. Orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected early and will avoid more serious corrections later in life. If you are considering adult orthodontic treatment, there are discreet treatment options available that are still highly effective in shifting your teeth into proper position.
6. How long does treatment last?
Treatment results depend on multiple different factors including the nature of your orthodontic issue, the treatment option, general health, and your overall compliance with the treatment plan. Once orthodontic appliances are removed, or clear aligner treatment is completed, dental maintenance is extremely important. Braces perform the majority of the work but post-treatment retainers help your improved smile stay in its corrected position.
7.What is the cost of treatment?
It’s no secret that orthodontic treatment is not only an investment of time but money as well. There are many factors included in the cost of treatment including your specific oral health needs, how much work needs to be completed, your location and average prices for treatment in the area, your dentist’s time for their work, and how much coverage your third-party insurance plan provides. It’s important during your initial consultation to ask questions and receive an esti-mated cost. Many dental professionals offer flexible and affordable monthly payment plans ra-ther than paying for the entirety of your treatment up front.
8. How often will I have to visit my orthodontist during treatment?
Appointments are necessary throughout orthodontic treatment but the frequency depends on the treatment option you and your orthodontist choose, and if you encounter any issues during treatment. With traditional braces, you’ll likely visit the office every four to eight weeks for ad-justments and overall progress checks. Since clear aligners require no adjusting, you will visit your orthodontist every six to ten weeks for a progress update and to pick up the next set of aligners in the series.
9. What can I eat and drink with braces?
With traditional braces, you will have to adjust your diet. If you’re a candidate for clear aligner treatment, you don’t have to restrict your diet at all! But this is all dependent on your individual needs and the severity of the orthodontic condition. It’s recommended to eliminate foods that could become stuck between the brackets and wires to prevent bacteria buildup and tooth de-cay. This includes gum, nuts, corn on the cob, popcorn, hard candies, etc. There are still many delicious and soft foods that do not interfere with braces. With clear aligners, you have the free-dom to eat the same way you did before treatment, but you must remove your aligners before eating and drinking anything other than water.
10. Do I need to change my oral hygiene routine during treatment?
It’s very important to take proper care of your teeth during treatment. If your teeth are not kept in pristine condition, it could affect the outcome of your treatment. While your orthodontic treatment is working to correct your bite and straighten your teeth, it’s not keeping your teeth free of plaque and cavities. It’s essential to maintain a dedicated at-home oral hygiene routine and to continue visiting your general dentist every six months for regular examinations and cleanings.